Get Started with a Free Water Consultation

Hard Water Vs. Problem Water – What’s The Difference?


What Is Hard Water?

Hard water is water that contains a high concentration of dissolved calcium and magnesium. It is classified as “hard” when calcium carbonate concentration is generally 61 milligrams per liter and above. While drinking hard water with a moderate concentration is relatively safe, it does have a greater impact on your working water. Working water is the water you use to bathe and clean with. Signs that you may have hard water running through your pipes are dry skin, sticky or dull hair after a shower, as well as mineral residue left on dishes after a dishwasher cycle.

What Is Problem Water?

Problem water refers to water that holds specific water contaminants. This can include high concentrations of iron in water, which can cause staining, or sulfur in water, which can give water a rotten egg smell. Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA)  are also possible water contaminants in problem water and can be extremely harmful to ingest.

Hard Water vs. Problem Water

Having hard water or problem water can depend on the region you live in. Many hard water locations, including Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana, and North and South Dakota, have some of the highest concentrations of water hardness in the U.S. This could be attributed in part to sea beds containing high concentrations of limestone that used to cover the area.
Regions like the Northeast, California and places with more industrial manufacturing facilities are more susceptible to problem water that contains PFOA and PFOS. Also, if your house runs on well water, you may experience a rotten egg smell from sulfur or higher amounts of iron in your water.

What Water Filtration Solution Is Right For Your Water?

You may just have problem water or hard water, or a combination of both. Different water filtration systems can address specific water problems. For instance, the Culligan Smart HE Whole House Water Filter is especially fitting for problematic water because it treats specific water contaminants that reduc unpleasant odors in water. The Culligan HE Water Softener focuses more on softening hard water issues. If you think you might have a hard water or problem water issue but aren’t quite sure which one it is, call on Culligan. We’ll figure out exactly what’s coming out of your faucet and provide a customized solution to help you enjoy quality water throughout your home.

Find A Location Near Me


Schedule Your Free
In-Home Water Test

Get better water in your home by scheduling an appointment with your local Culligan Water Expert.

Our Products

blue wave
Water Softeners

Water Softeners

With any of our soft water systems, get more out of your water-using appliances while spending less on energy and detergent.

View Products

Water Delivery

Water Delivery

There’s never been a better time to enjoy the convenience of scheduled bottled water deliveries from the Culligan® Water Experts

View Products

Water Filtration Systems

Water Filtration Systems

Culligan's water filtration systems have improved water quality for thousands of families worldwide.

View Products